#1: If you find that you have been underpaid (either deliberately because of docked salary or via wage theft from unpaid work), there is a 2 year statute of limitations on recovery of the unpaid amount – leaving you out of pocket and the company laughing all the way to the bank if you fail to act within that period of time.
#2: Conversely, if a company has overpaid you, they have 10 whole years to get that money back from you.
#3: However, if a company HAS overpaid you and is seeking to get the difference back, they cannot (legally) deduct that difference from your next salary. A payment plan that you can agree with should be negotiated upon beforehand.
#4: Ten years for an employer vs two years for an employee seems pretty unfair, but the Ministry of Labor is actually looking to extend the two year statute of limitations to five years (but, of course, business groups are opposed to this plan).
#5: Be certain to keep your pay-slips and check them every month! It’s easy to just toss them in the trash, safe in the knowledge that the money is already in your bank account (or is it?), but that’s just asking for trouble.
In one case at Osaka YMCA, a part-timer found that his company had underpaid him by hundreds of thousands of yen over a 3 year period.
In that case, the union was able to negotiate for all three years of difference to be repaid – but without union support, the Labor Standards Office would have just stopped at the two year mark due to the statute of limitations!
#6: When your employment ends (either due to resignation or dismissal), you have the right to ask for any outstanding salary to be paid within 7 days of your final day of employment.
However, if you don’t ask, you must wait until the next regular salary date.
Make your request in writing.
#7: Because of how Article 24 of the Labor Standards Act was worded when it was written in 1947, the existence of antiquated Japanese (通貨) means that your salary should actually still be paid in cash!
There are loopholes to get around this, but many companies “break” this law.
It’s one of the few examples of when breaking the law is likely beneficial to the employee.